Zimbabwe News

Criminal Code to criminalise deliberate infection of minors with s.e.xually transmitted diseases

Zimbabwe’s Criminal Law and Codification and Reform Amendment Bill will criminalize the deliberate infection of children with any s.e.xually transmitted disease in addition to jailing offenders for engaging in s.e.xual relations with minors.

While the Bill primarily raises the age of consent from 16 to 18, owners of lodges will also be prosecuted if they are complicit in renting rooms to someone for sexual activity with a child, reported The Herald.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi steered the Bill through the National Assembly after robust debate last week.

Ziyambi agreed to amendments to some proposals and proposed additional amendments to offer children greater protection.

This Tuesday, the proposed law will be presented in the Senate.

During the debate at the committee stage of the Bill, Ziyambi tabled amendments which criminalize the intentional transmission of STIs to a child, which will include syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes, and HIV among others.

Reads the amendment:

A court convicting a person for any crime constituting unlawful sexual conduct against a child shall, if it also convicts that person for deliberately infecting that child with a sexually transmitted disease, not make any part of the sentence of imprisonment imposed for the latter crime run concurrently with any sentence of imprisonment imposed for the first-mentioned crime.

A previous proposal in the draft Bill that reintroduced criminalizing deliberate infection with HIV for everyone, regardless of the age of the person infected, was dropped.

However, the wilful infection of children was strengthened.

The draft Bill raised the age of consent and gave discretion to the Prosecutor-General on whether to prosecute when the couple were close in age.

However, the Prosecutor-General first needs to refer a case involving juvenile offenders to a probation officer before the National Prosecuting Authority decides whether to prosecute them or not. Said Ziyambi:

There may be a consistent behaviour that may be picked by the probation officer in that particular individual. If they are first-timers, I do not think that the probation officer will then prefer that without any reasonable cause because the Prosecutor General will interrogate that report and be able to satisfy herself that the case should be prosecuted.

The Bill also includes a clause on how to handle cases where an accused person claims they thought a child under 18 was older, based on the child’s physical appearance.

If that situation comes up, the Prosecutor-General must provide proof showing the accused person knew the child was below the legal age of consent.

This is the current position in the courts with the lower age of consent.

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